While the big guys up front might not get the glory of a quarterback or wideout, scoring wouldn’t be possible without the battle in the trenches.
At Brownstown Central, the offensive line goes to work and expects little acknowledgement from the crowd.
“The main thing with our guys is that they don’t want any of the credit,” Braves assistant coach Clark Smith said. “They do what they are asked and the stuff nobody sees — unless they mess up. Nobody sees the lineman driving a 300-pound guy downfield when Gavin Bane scores an 80-yards touchdown. They don’t see how the footwork can impact one play or how a we open a hole for a 60-yards run.”
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Clark, in his fifth year, works with the offensive/defensive line and special teams.
Players who have seen the majority of playing time for the Braves this year on the O-Line are seniors Clark Hauer and Trevor Colby, juniors Lendon Underwood, Stuart Hayden and Brendan Patman and sophomore Julian Deaton.
Patman has missed recent play due to injury.
The biggest roster overhaul for the Braves in 2016 was on the offensive and defensive lines.
However, the new players haven’t slowed the offense — which scored 42 points against Paoli and 52 versus Charlestown.
Hauer (center) and Colby (guard) have helped lead the young group of linemen.
“The (seniors) have kind of taken them in and shown them what it means to be a lineman,” Smith said. “It’s a no-nonsense approach. You have to have fun being a lineman, but when it’s time to go — let’s go.”
In the offseason, the Braves lineman meet voluntarily to lift weights before hitting the practice field together in the summer.
“Four or five years ago, we bought a driving sled in the weight room,” Smith said. “We do a lineman program in the winter time and have Steve Brewer and Jay Peters do boxing with them to work on their pass blocking.
Coach (Reed) May and the other coaches have a blocking sled, where they work on exploding out on footwork. They start with a few pounds, and by the end of it they’re up to several hundred pounds on the sled. They work on getting low and driving. You see how it can translate on the field when they drive guys off the ball.”
While the Braves don’t have anyone at 300-plus pounds, they rely on their technique to dismantle opponents.
“We have some big guys, but we have quick guys,” Smith said. “We have a bunch of guys around 260, 270 and 280, but they played running back before and multiple sports. They’re just athletic; it’s a good combination to have size and speed.”
The Braves have ran for 720 yards, passed 209 yards and scored 12 total TDs in their first two weeks of the season.
Despite the big numbers, the coaching staff focuses on the line for each individual play rather than total yardage.
“We watch and see how they do based on the length of the play,” Smith said. “We don’t set too many goals; we just pay attention to if we’re doing things right. We don’t set any individual, offensive or defensive goals.”
Colby feels like the line has shaped-up nicely early in the season.
“I think we’re running the ball pretty well,” Colby said. “The only people that can stop us most of the time is ourselves.”
Underwood said that this group has worked together for years before varsity.
“I’ve been playing with some of these guys since middle school,” he said. “Over the years we formed a sense of bond. I love playing the O-Line. It’s just a great feeling to see someone score a touchdown — they wouldn’t be able to do it without us.”
A close-knit group, Smith said the Braves’ line has a good sense of humor.
“They look forward to going out to eat on Thursday nights the most,” he joked. “They got mad with me last year because I told them I would bring them biscuits and gravy, and I didn’t follow through. If we keep averaging 50 points per game, I might have to make sure they get their treats — food motivates them the most.”